use the Brix scale and convert using math or an online calculator. From a lot of posts on here, it's tough to trust the SG scale. Also, double check it against a hydrometer, during a brew, just to make sure it's where it says it is. Yes, the refractometer will be able to tell you your gravity after mashing. Also after your boil. The math gets fuzzy though once you pitch the yeast, so I still stick to my hydrometer for FG readings.
The change in gravity, from the time you mash to the time you pitch yeast is mainly based on your boil off rate. This is different for every system. How much water you boil off, will determine the concentration of sugar in your post boil wort. Your refractometer will still read this fine though. It's actually the good thing about the refractometer, you can take the small samples during the boil, to find out how close you are getting to your target gravity.